Onyx, the makers of those colourful e-readers you’ve probably watched from afar, have taken the e-reader industry in a… different direction. Where Amazon’s Kindle is constantly trying to make things bigger and faster, Onyx is thinking differently.
That’s where the Boox Palma, Onyx’s latest e-ink effort, comes in. It’s a 6.13in e-reader that looks like a phone (but isn’t), runs Android 11 and somehow houses 6GB of RAM and a 3,950 mAh battery under the hood. We might just be in love.
Smaller is sometimes better
Even with all that hardware tucked away, it’s not a smartphone replacement. And that’s okay because it isn’t trying to be. Onyx envisioned this as an “alternative lifestyle uninterrupted by notifications, phone calls, or text messages.” It’s certainly that, even if a smartphone could technically serve as an alternative. Those that have used an actual e-ink display know that it’s just not the same.
The Boox Palma comes in a 6.13in tall, complete with a 6.13in 824×1648 E Ink Cartra 1200 display, which operates entirely in black and white. Boox likes to make use of “frontlights” which offers a little more personalisation when it comes to the device’s colour temperature.
Peel back that e-ink display and you’ll be met with 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of UFS2.1 storage. That’s helping out the CPU – of the Qualcomm Advanced octa-core variety – which is backed by a 3,950mAh battery that should support a rather long battery life (though Onyx hasn’t gone into any detail over on the spec sheet just yet.)
Strangest of all is Onyx’s inclusion of a 16MP shooter on the Palma’s back, accompanied by an LED flash.
You got games on your Boox Palma?
You’ll find more makings of a standard smartphone in the device’s USB-C charge port, the microphone and speaker vents alongside it, and power/volume buttons right where you’d find them on a standard Samsung smartphone. On the other side is a microSD slot if that 128GB isn’t enough, joined by another button that’s fully customizable.
What you won’t find is a SIM tray, which stops us from calling this a smartphone. It’s chugging along just fine with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth 5 connections.
What you’ll actually be doing here, we’re not so sure. Its primary focus is reading, sure, but there’s nothing stopping you from downloading Spotify, Apple Music, and a social media app or two. Hell, with WhatsApp’s ability to log in without a SIM, downloading apps like WhatsApp and Telegram isn’t out of the question. Think Apple’s iPod Touch, but with an e-ink face.
Games on the other hand? They’re… there. We can’t attest to their quality on the smaller-than-usual black-and-white display, but they’ll run. That should be enough to shut up your six-year-old cousin hassling you during a particularly devious bout of load shedding.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be picking this up for a while (or maybe ever). The Onyx Boox Palma just sold out of its $250 pre-orders for early adopters. There’s no word on when it’ll come back in stock, though we know it’ll be $280 when it does happen. South Africa isn’t on the company’s list of available shipping regions either, meaning getting your hands on one of these might be a bit of an issue.